Weight loss doesn’t necessarily equal fat loss. Many individuals have learned an unbalanced way of losing weight that usually involves very low calorie intake and cardio only! This is the worst method of weight loss because your body will burn mostly muscle. This form can lead to frustration and plateau’s in the weight loss process.

Any time you are looking to lose weight, you must cause a calorie deficit.  Reducing calories below your energy requirement is essential, but reducing them too low can actually back fire on you. Let’s take an example of an 1800 calorie person who wants to lose weight. They would have to create a calorie deficit either by increasing energy requirements (exercise) or reducing energy intake (diet).  Doing both is best. Trying to lose weight without exercise is typically short lived and difficult to maintain.

First, what is a calorie? A “calorie” is a unit of energy.  One pound of fat is measures in 3,500 calories.  So, how do you burn 3, 500 calories if you’re only an 1800 calorie person? One way to look at it is to consider that you are basically one big ball of energy. The easiest and most efficient way would be to break it down over a week.  We would need to remove 500 calories a day over 7 days to equal one pound of strictly fat. Now some may think that one pound of fat per week seems like slow weight loss, but what most don’t realize is that many people lose muscle during weight loss. Why does your body do this?

If you are an 1800 calorie person, and you’re trying to shrink yourself down to a 1600 calorie person, then your body will do it the most efficient way possible because it actually likes to preserve itself. What burns more calories, muscle cells or fat cells? Which cell is more metabolically active? MUSCLE!!

Your bodies natural response will be to break down muscle to reduce your energy. Unfortunately, this isn’t really the goal, is it? I thought we wanted to lose fat, not muscle. Muscle is a very metabolically active tissue. The more muscle you have the more calories you burn. Fat is far less metabolically active, but it is still important for endocrine function, lipid metabolism, and much more. It’s not that we don’t want any fat, we just want a better balance of fat to muscle ratio.

So, how do we lose just fat in weight loss? You must make an environment where you need your body to preserve or build muscle. Since there are so many factors that influence muscle synthesis, we need to focus on more than one factor. The type of exercise you do, stress management, and diet/diet behavior all contribute to the breakdown or synthesis of muscle.

If you are the type of person who skips meals, forgets protein, prefers processed foods, eats high glycemic (sugar spiking) foods, then you will struggle more when it comes to building or preserving muscle. If you are the type of person who would rather run or do cardio exercise that only uses legs or long muscle fibers, then you will struggle to build or preserve muscle. If you are a person who doesn’t have good sleep habits, worries about things often, then you may struggle to build or preserve muscle. Hormone regulation is critical for good body composition.

The goal would be to reduce inflammation  support a good ph (acid/alkaline) balance within your system, and stimulate all muscle fibers including both long and short/medium fibers. What it all comes down to is….you need a low glycemic whole food balanced diet, resistance training, balanced cardio, flexibility, and proper rest for fat loss and metabolic balance.  Remember, if you don’t use it, you lose it!

If you have been doing only cardio type exercises and are not seeing results, consider that you are cardio trained and will need to do something different to make your body pull from your fat reserves. If you are doing cardio and resistance training but can’t seem to budge on the scale, first consider that you are gaining muscle over fat, but also consider that your diet and diet behavior is not supportive of your exercise efforts.  If you’re feeling run down, getting colds, injury, etc, consider that you are over exercising, not eating properly, are stressed and/or not getting enough rest.

We naturally lose muscle as we age due to the decline in growth hormone and also because many people stop being active. You can slow and even reverse this progression with the type of exercise you do. I highly recommend every person become familiar with different forms of exercise. There are multiple forms of resistance style training, cardio and flexibility training. Explore new ways of movement! You may be surprised at how small changes to your fitness routine can make the biggest difference in your body. Not only will you keep from getting bored, but you will prevent injury, and help achieve a better metabolic balance and burn more FAT!

Beware of fast weight loss gimmicks because you may find yourself losing a lot of muscle and water and regaining all your weight back plus 10 more pounds!!  I highly recommend you assess your health before any new exercise routine. Meeting with a qualified personal trainer or physical therapist, and speaking with your healthcare provide may be beneficial to avoid injury and provide proper guidance.